Bank of Best Practices
Interest group: Contractors
Commitment: Transparency and clear rules in a relation of mutual benefit
Objective: Promoting responsible practices
Abstract: The determination to validate their processes with its workers and other interest groups has led contractor Insurcol to become a model of social responsibility in Colombia and Latin America.
A Contractor Passionate About Excellence
For more than twenty years, every Saturday morning former professor Alvaro Gonzalez participates in a round table with his workers of the main office of the company that he manages in Bucaramanga. The circle they form when they sit together not only allows them to see each other but it is also an exercise called Circle of Quality and Personal Development.
In this informal meeting, which lasts about 30 minutes, workers share the experiences they have lived during the workweek ending. At the end of the summary of each case, the manager takes the floor, makes a series of propositions and invites the rest of workers to express their thoughts.
"We talk about positive and negative things we have been through. We try to reinforce what has succeeded, and in case of a failure or compliant of the client, we focus on identifying what part of the chain had a problem. At the end, we all build together the way to improve continuously," Gonzales, manager and founder of Ingeniería, Suministros y Representaciones de Colombia (Insurcol), one of the main contractors of Ecopetrol, says.
The Circles of Quality have become one of the multiple practices the company has implemented from the High Management as part of their strategy of social responsibility in which the company is recognized nationally and internationally as a leader and role model.
In addition to having obtained ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OSHAS 18001 certificates for reliability in its process and management systems, today Insurcol is the only Colombian and Latin American company to have a certificate of Ethical Management and Social Responsibility pursuant to European standard SGE 21. This standard, granted by Spanish company Foretica on March 5, 2012, was approved by Colombian certification company SGS.
"Ethical management and social responsibility require will but also a commitment showing at least three essential elements: First, its integration in strategy and organization procedures; second, promotion of dialogue and knowledge and real commitment with the interest groups; and lastly promotion of transparency and communication. This is our action framework. We have much evidence to prove that we honor our commitments concerning social responsibility. SGS certification does not measure good intentions but concrete facts showing that we are a sustainable company that fulfills its commitments with its interest groups," Insurcol´s manager states.
From 1988, domiciled in Bucaramanga but with operating offices in Barrancabermeja, Bogota and Cartagena, Insurcol has been a permanent contractor and supplier of Ecopetrol participating in production projects such as fields Castilla and Tisquirama, and transport projects such as the Biodiesel wharf in Barrancabermeja and the refinery.
"This certificate places the companies well above the average in the issue of social responsibility thanks to its good practices," Ramon Morales, an expert in certification issues and director of the Program Comprometerse (Committing Yourself) is Confecamaras (Colombian Confederation of Chambers of Commerce) between 2006 and 2011, points out.
A history of contractual relation of Insurcol with Ecopetrol shows that in the 202 contracts signed since 2004 until 2011 an average certification of 95.4% has been obtained in the works conducted and 96% in the purchases required.
The key of success, according to deputy manager Omaira Cárdenas, is that in Insurcol everything is organized, recorded and everything has a procedure.
"In all of our actions, as a business and as a volunteer, we have gone beyond legal or minimum mandatory requirements. Since we founded, in our company everything is organized, everything has a methodology and everything is duly managed. Our main assets are our workers and our customers. We know that through culture, commitment and respect we succeed at being every time better for our families and for society in general," deputy manager stated.
She added: "most of practices are developed with our workers to keep them motivated and encourage them to be better but we have practices with all of our interest groups. One example is the Circles of Quality and Development, a space created from management to implement a positive language within the organization where each employee reviews his or her way of speaking and dealing with daily activities. In Insurcol, language is a key element. Here we don?t say that we have problems but that we face situations. There is no "I am not able´ but ´I can"."
We are so committed to ensuring procedures that when auditing company SGS asked Insurcol if it had evidence of the Circles of Quality, its officers showed the files with magnetic tapes that were recorded and documented in these informal meetings.
"In all of our actions as a business and as a volunteer we have gone beyond regulations or laws. For example, in the case of our workers, we go beyond paying the roll and parafiscal obligations, we motivate them to be better people and make realize that they should to contribute with the needy of society," Gonzalez said.
Actually, around the same time of Insurcol´s start-up, González and a group of classmates of Universidad Santo Tomás in Bucaramanga created the foundation Transformar (Transforming), which has developed hundreds of charitable actions in the most vulnerable areas of the capital of Santander.
"Ecopetrol has been an exceptional reference framework for Insurcol because, through different training programs for big and medium suppliers, it has allowed us to develop competences, skills and knowledge in those issues of social responsibility and sustainability such as the interest groups, corporate governance, human rights and environment. Ecopetrol has shown that we are partners rather than mere suppliers. Ecopetrol has also proved to have a genuine interest for our sustained growth," Gonzalez states.